Straddle duals make a tough job manageable

Combining corn, spraying soybeans and planting soybeans all on the same day was just part of the unusual challenges facing farmers in the Lamoure, N.D., area this June. “But we never let it bother us. It’s just part of farming,” laughed Arlen Booney, one of several North Dakota farmers still trying to get the tail end of the 2008 corn harvested.

The Booneys grow about 8,500 acres corn, and about the same acres of soybeans. As of June 19, they still had about 800 acres of corn to harvest. And it was raining again as we visited on the phone. He’ll get those last 800 acres harvested however, even though the clay subsoils in his area take forever to dry out once saturated as they have been since last fall.

What’s his new weapon for harvesting rain-soaked fields? The biggest straddle duals ever put on a combine. Keltgen Tires of Olivia, long known for their tall and narrow straddle duals for 22-inch corn, soybeans and sugar beets, just manufactured straddle duals for 800/70R38 Firestone radials that will be fitted to Booney’s John Deere 9870 STS combine equipped with a 12-row corn head.

“I don’t know how many tons this combine weighs, especially when that 400-bu. grain tank is full, but we’re counting on these big straddle duals to do the job,” Booney said.

That set of straddle duals cost $21,000 but that’s immaterial, he said, as long as it lets them get their harvest complete. Last fall, early and deep snows shut down corn harvest before it barely got started in much of eastern North Dakota. Heavy spring rains haven’t helped one bit.

“Our clay subsoils are still saturated. We don’t have field tiling like the Minnesota and Iowa farmers have so it’s a matter of patience and big straddle duals. I don’t say you get used to these challenges but you can’t let it get you down either.”